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Electric Wizard – Time To Die

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Electric Wizard – Time To DieDo I believe in witchcraft? What kind of witchcraft? The legendary witch that rides on the imaginary broom? The hex that tortures the thoughts of the victim? The pin stuck in the image that wastes away the mind and the body? The massive maw of pure sludge doom is back. Electric Wizard return with a line-up that won’t go beyond the release of this album to produce probably their most psychedelic, nihilistic album in a while.

“Incense For The Damned” (the title is taken from a ’70s vampire film featuring Peter Cushing) opens with eerie organ chords over the sound of running water, and after a voiceover about a “heavy metal” occult crime, the riff hits in. This is where the bludgeoning of the senses starts, the riff is massively powerful and, dare I say it, tuneful. The lyrics are all about the joys of ingesting various forms of drugs, which will already make this track become legend in lots of bong-filled bedrooms across the land. “I wanna get high before I die,” sings Jus Oborn over a dope haze of heavy guitars and tumbling drums, the sound mushed into an LSD-soaked fervour.

“Time To Die” rolls in from the dying joint embers of the first track and here we find the Wiz referencing the best of ’70s heavy rock with a kaleidoscopic riff and some nice lead work that at times reminds me a bit of early Budgie. The lyrics about environmental apocalypse and destruction of the world take on an attitude that’s part Black Sabbath Paranoid-era nihilism and Charles Manson’s ‘Air, Trees, Water, Animals’ philosophy. But it’s the power of the chord that drives the whole song through and Mark Greening’s (back for this one album) drumming that adds that extra sense of urgency.

A droning doped-out set of notes open “I Am Nothing,” and this builds into a fairly mid-tempo offering for Electric Wizard. Lyrics are suspended somewhere between an HP Lovecraft story and a black mass, giving yourself to nothing, getting the fear and waiting for the moment to “Rise.” This is the soundtrack to a bloody murder spree; a fork in the stomach detuned guitar riff takes us on a dune buggy ride to oblivion, into the devil’s hole where there isn’t any return. The massive psychedelic middle section is where you should do something ‘witchy.’ “Destroy Those Who Love God” is a short instrumental which carries on the opening theme of the album with organ and distorted guitar playing over a news recording of a ‘Devil worship’ crime (allegedly) committed by some heavy metal fans in 1984, rounding off side two of the album and giving it a haunting feel.

“Funeral Of Your Mind” is a rolling tune with some amazing wah-wah guitar and bass, and the closest the Wiz get to the Sabbath sound musically. A song that appears to be about slowly going insane also has the catchiest chorus on the album and an ever-changing tempo over mentally distorted chords. “We Love The Dead” starts with a lone organ note that seeps in to an almost tribal guitar part before the heavy chords kick in and the song from there on in almost seems on the brink of collapse, getting pulled back from the edge several times. The title speaks for itself, though it did remind me of the famous Boris Karloff line in Bride of Frankenstein where the monster says “Love dead, hate the living.”

“Sadio Witch” has an almost “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”-style riff and strays back into firm Wiz territory by talking about the occult and drugs. A video made by Shazzula Vultura perfectly accompanies this song by showing a witch in an almost Jess Franco early ’70s witchcraft scenario. It’s the shortest vocal track on the album and is definitely single material, coming out on 7″ vinyl too. Beneath its monolithic chords a sense of evil lurks. “Lucifer’s Slaves” is the soundtrack to some warped version of Psychomania as seen through a vast amount of dope. A heat haze of burning rubber and smouldering bongs permeates the atmosphere; and is that the slight use of a Mellotron I hear? It’s a shop-wrecking, toad-worshipping bad dream delivered on a psilocybin trip to hell where you get buried on your bike. “Saturn Dethroned” sounds almost like early Pink Floyd with its rolling drums and ritualistic organ chords. It’s a short instrumental that closes a big heavy monster of an album as the sound of running water fades into the distance.

I’ve been a fan of Electric Wizard for some years now and this album brings together some of the best elements of their output, from the deep, downward spiral feel of Let Us Prey era to the more recent Witchcult Today sound. It’s classic Wiz that’s big and heavy and uncanny, all at the same time.

-Gary Parsons-

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